Two of a kind

Brendan Edwards, a mechanical fitter at Komatsu, and Bill Coulter, a self-confessed dreamer and problem solver, are two of a kind. Both are passionate about workplace safety and, fittingly, both were finalists in the 2017 SafeWork NSW Awards.

Brendan has initiated myriad safety solutions at the Moss Vale manufacturing facility where he works.

According to Hicham Merhil, Brendan’s supervisor, ‘he has never met an individual that is as hands-on about health and safety as Brendan.’

He has been responsible for introducing anti-slip grip tape on steps and anti-slip floor plates at machines; installing safety solutions for gas cylinders and shelves to reduce manual handling; streamlining traffic management systems and ensuring compliance with personal protective equipment; and on and on it goes.

Brendan generally makes about eight safety observations every month, identifying improved work processes and discussing changes with his co-workers.

Bill Coulter, on the other hand, has retired from a long career in sawmilling and logging, yet he was determined to find a safer way for tree workers to work at heights and avoid manual handling injuries.

After much research, information-gathering and stargazing, Bill bought a truck and crane, a hydraulic grapple and a cutting attachment – and called it ‘Safe Treez’. Using a remote control, it removed trees in less than half the time taken using traditional methods, eliminated the need to work at heights and significantly reduced the amount of manual handling.

If you’re one of a kind, enter the 2018 SafeWork NSW Awards.

Excellence in recovery at work

When a company experiences a 41 per cent fall in workers compensation premiums and a 45 per cent fall in their average cost of claims, people take notice.

The panel on the 2017 SafeWork Awards certainly took notice.The company now boasts the 2017 award for excellence in recovery at work for business.

Specialty Fashion Group, the largest specialty retailer of women’s fashion in Australasia – represented by brands such as Millers, Crossroads and Katies – has over 1200 stores throughout Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United States. And it has invested heavily in developing an integrated revover@work program.

The program is built on the motto ‘a little happier, a little healthier, each day’. It includes a dedicated return to work team, surveys on how the program is working, 24/7 access to a medical advice hotline and, most importantly, financial commitment to the program from the board and CEO.

Surveys reveal that more than 90 per cent of the workforce love the program.

Register now for the 2018 awards.

Changing age-old traditions for a safer workplace

For many businesses, manual tasks are an important part of getting the job done.

Not surprisingly, those who work at cemeteries do numerous hazardous manual tasks and are often prone to serious injuries.John Pearce is one of those people. As an employee of Coffs Harbour City Council, John worked at the local cemetery and was concerned about the damage he and others were doing to their backs when lowering coffins into graves.

Despite the generations-old method of lowering coffins, John was determined to find a safer alternative. After extensive consultation with council colleagues and funeral parlours, he designed and built a trolley on an A-frame to transport a coffin-lowering device behind a ride-on mower or small tractor.

John’s invention reduces manual handling activities by about 90 per cent and minimises trip hazards around the grave. It eliminates the need to lift the 52-kg coffin-lowering device on and off the frame and eliminates the need to push the 300-kg trailer.

Following John’s innovative creation, the council now actively encourages all staff to be proactive and provide suggestions on improving health and safety outcomes.

Fittingly, John was a stand-out winner at the 2017 SafeWork Awards for best individual contribution to workplace health and safety.

Register now for the 2018 awards.

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An inspiration to us all

David Nugent owns a cattle farm near Wagga Wagga and does some contract work supplying hay and operating heavy machinery to supplement his income when times are tough.

Twenty years ago, David was seriously injured when his arms became caught in a hay baler as he was trying to fix a fault. As the baler pulled his arms in with such force, he suffered chest and head injuries along with extensive injuries to both arms. He was trapped for more than an hour before being rescued by a passing motorist and rushed to hospital.

David spent five months in hospital, had his right arm amputated above the elbow and numerous surgeries to save the left arm, including orthopaedic reconstruction, skin grafting, vascular grafting and infection control.

David knew nothing other than farming and was widely known in his community for solving problems and finding solutions. And this horrific tragedy did not deter him. His motto: the farm will not beat me.

With the help of a rehabilitation provider, prosthetic technician, case manager, family and friends, he developed a comprehensive return to work program and purchased modified equipment through SIRA’s vocational rehabilitation program. He made changes to the farm set-up, re-designed his work practices, and researched widely to find equipment that would satisfy his needs.

David credits a determined, problem-solving attitude and a great team as the principal reasons for his remarkable achievements.

Although the incident happened 20 years ago, David continues to receive medical treatment for his injuries but has returned to his pre-injury duties as a self-employed cattle farmer, hay contractor, bob-cat operator and earth mover.

David’s achievements were recognised last year when he won the 2017 SafeWork NSW Award for Recovery at Work Achievement Award for Injured Workers.

Register today for the 2018 SafeWork NSW Awards.

 

SafeWork NSW Awards 2017. We all win.

Entries are now open for the 14th annual SafeWork NSW Awards. Individuals and businesses across the state are invited to enter and showcase their innovative safety systems and commitment to workplace health and safety and recovery at work.

Established in 2004, the awards were introduced to recognise and reward individuals and businesses who go the extra mile to improve safety and injury management outcomes in their workplace environment.

This year, aside from earning that all important safety tick of approval, business winners will receive a marketing package, whilst individual winners will receive the opportunity to attend specialised safety training, a safety conference or receive a safety equipment rebate.

Plus, as a winner you will be recognised as a safety leader in your industry, just like Clive Woodnutt of Bohmer’s Tree Care, a 2016 winner. This award enabled him to win new contracts and business opportunities.

If you have developed an innovative solution that reduces workplace injury or know someone that is passionate about promoting safety culture in their workplace, then now is the time to enter!

You can enter yourself, someone you know, a business, government agency or not-for-profit organisation in one of six categories.

Entries close July 21, with the winners announced at the official awards ceremony and black-tie gala dinner on October 26.

For more information, entry details or assistance with completing your entry visit safeworkawards.com.au or call 02 4321 4444.

Hard rock quarry unearths award winner

This month we feature Hy-Tec Industries, in our profile series of the 2016 SafeWork Awards winners. Hy-Tec’s Austen Quarry entry received the ‘Best Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue’ award.

Hy-Tec supplies premixed concrete, aggregates and sands to all sectors of the construction industry. It has a hard rock quarry, Austen Quarry, located at Hartley in the Blue Mountains. Heavy machinery, including a large PC850 excavator, plays a crucial part in the day-to-day operations of the quarry.

In a truly collaborative effort, Hy-Tec engineers, safety officers and workers developed the Excavator Bucket Tooth Exchanger to directly address the risk of musculoskeletal and pinch-point injuries faced by workers while changing the PC850 excavator bucket teeth each week. Like a dentist fitting enormous veneers, the workers at Austen Quarry were manually removing the old teeth, weighing 10kg each, and then attaching five new teeth, each weighing 29 kg, to the bucket.

The Excavator Bucket Tooth Exchanger has eliminated the need for workers to manually handle the heavy bucket teeth in order to transport them from the delivery box to the excavator. A hydraulic arm now does the heavy lifting to load the teeth into the attached tray. A forklift moves the device into position and the excavator bucket slots straight in.

Safety has been dramatically improved as workers are no longer placed in the potentially dangerous situation of having their arm or hand crushed while supporting the teeth. An additional benefit of the Exchanger has been the decreased time required to change the teeth, resulting in improved operational efficiencies.

Carolyn Fisher, HSE Manager at Hy-Tec Industries commented that “The cost to manufacture the Exchanger was just over $1,000. This is a minimal investment compared to the potential cost of rehabilitating an injured worker with a broken arm or hand. The Exchanger has truly been an innovative way to improve workplace safety, foster teamwork and boost productivity – it’s a win for everyone.”

Entering safety awards a no-brainer for Craig

When it comes to winning the 2015 SafeWork Awards Safety in Leadership award, it’s not about the certificate on the wall or even the plaque that adorns his desk. For Craig Murray, it’s about validation.

It’s as simple as that.

“Winning a SafeWork Award validates your own thinking. And it’s that validation that drives your own confidence and your own ability,” he said.

“What I’m doing, what I’m thinking and what I’m saying – the award has made me feel like I’m doing all the right things.”

Craig, the WHS Environmental Systems Manager at Sydney Fish Market, says winning the award has also cemented his credibility as a safety champion in his workplace.

“I think other employees (at Sydney Fish Market) feel as if I’m giving them sound knowledge and advice – it really is a great endorsement.”

He says the Awards offer anyone the opportunity to achieve this if they just put not only their mind, but also their heart into it.

The 2016 SafeWork Awards are now open for entry. For Craig, it’s not even a question as to whether people who are interested in safety in NSW should apply.

“The big thing for me is that I didn’t think I was doing anything special. It’s very easy for all of us to play down and underestimate our own achievements – I certainly didn’t think I had achieved enough to ever be SafeWork Awards winner,” he said.

“All I can say to other businesses is just do it.”

So what are you waiting for?

Some big changes promise to make this year’s Awards better and easier to enter than ever.

The all-new Excellence in workplace health and safety culture category will highlight organisations that have not only developed outstanding safety systems but have shown a continuous, all-encompassing commitment to safety.

There are also more categories tailored for small businesses, so even if you don’t have the safety and recovery at work budget of the big boys you’re still in with a chance.

This year we’ve launched a new-look website to make entering easier than ever – just enter your details, answer a few questions and you’re on your way. It’s fast, simple and free!

The clock is ticking so visit safeworkawards.com.au to get started. And remember we’re here to help, so call us on 4321 4444 with any questions.

Good luck!